Working Cats in the City


Before the days of rodenticides, glue traps, and companies specializing in pest control, apartment dwellers and homeowners had an effective (and eco-friendly) way of warding off mice: they kept cats. Nowadays most cat-owners value companionship over mouse-fighting powers, but several places are turning to this old-fashioned method of mouse control.

Take the San Francisco Working Cats Program, which started last year. Sponsored by the San Francisco SPCA, the program adopts under-socialized or feral cats into businesses for companionship and rodent control. The cats are vaccinated and spayed or neutered before adoption. The business owner commits to providing safe shelter, food, water, and any necessary vet care in exchange for the cat’s companionship and rodent control. The Humane Society of Huron Valley has a similar program called Barn Buddies.

Not only do these programs reduce the need for chemical repellents and sprays, but they also keep hard-to-adopt cats from being euthanized. Programs like Working Cats and Barn Budies also encourage mice to go elsewhere instead of getting caught in a trap or hunted by cats, since most will stay away from a warehouse or other building that smells of cat. One cat adopter in San Fran even created a blog about his working cats.

Yet not everyone is so fond of using felines for this purpose. Several delis in New York City use cats to scare off mice and risk getting fined by health inspectors. Of course, deli owners point out that rats or mice aren’t very hygienic either.

Image: r. s. m. b. Sees